Tag Archives: drought

The Drought of 1871 and the Mills on the Mississippi River

The Drought of 1871 and the Mills on the Mississippi River



September 29, 1871 — written with files from the Almonte Gazettealmontegsmall

September 1871- with files from the Almonte Gazette

Dear father,

The water is getting very low in the Mississippi river, and although none of the Almonte mills have yet been short there is not much doubt they will be, soon, unless we have plenty of rain. All the mills, at Carleton Place are, we hear running within half time, or at very slow speed, and the large mills of Messrs. Gillies & McLaren are not doing half work.

We have not heard how the mills farther up or down the river are affected, but they must be all more or less short. Here, on Mondays, the supply of water is short, owing to the fact that no water is let down from Carleton Place Lake on Sundays. Something might be done to remedy this, were a tight dam made at the upper falls, so as to save the water on Sunday between here and Appleton. This would give sufficient to keep up the head of water until Tuesday, by which time the water used by the Carleton Place mills is down this far.


Mississippi Mills



What is wanted, however, and we are very much surprised that mill owners on the river have not already seen the necessity of it, is an organization with a view to improving the water supply of the Mississippi, by taking advantage of the numerous lakes on its head waters, in which, were suitable dams erected, a large supply of water might be stored, sufficient to keep every mill going at full speed the year round. The water powers on the Tay have been so much improved by the Government- dams erected for the purpose of storing water for the benefit of the Rideau Canal, that they have now an equal supply of water throughout the year, and logs, we learn, were last month, run through the slides at Perth as if it had been in June.

When such results have been accomplished on the insignificant Tay, there can be nothing to prevent those interested from doing the same on the Mississippi, which, with its numerous tributaries, drains a very large section of country admirably adapted, for the purpose of storing water for a supply in the fall. Messrs. Gillies & McLaren are now regretting they did not build their mills with a view to using steam power, and the Rosamond Woolen Co. are, we believe, already preparing to put in an engine to use when water is low.

This expense, and much annoyance and bother, might be saved were the surplus—water of spring stored up as we have suggested. Rivers no larger than this are utilized in the New England States in this way and to an extent very few of our mill owners have any conception of, and sums are paid per annum for a water supply which would astonish some of our slow going coaches. Were 2 or 4 of our mill owners on the river take such an initiative in a movement such as we have suggested—we have no doubt they would receive the support of the rest. I worry my job will be omitted tomorrow.

Have you read-What Do You Know About the Burnt Lands?




Artwork by Ralph Wallace Burton, Flour Mill, Pakenham, Ontario, Made of Oil–MutualArt.com

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun


Low Water in Pakenham 1871– The mills at Pakenham are also idle, for a few days, from the scarcity of water in the Mississippi River. The water in the Mississippi is so low just now that most of our mills have been compelled to shut down.  If this was to continue for any length o f time it would have a serious effect on the business of the place ; but in all probability the scarcity of water will be but for a short time. If our millowners would only turn their attention to improving the water powers of Almonte, instead of disputing about their respective rights, we think that means could be devised whereby there would be sufficient water all the year round. Rosamond’s, Elliott, *Routh & Sheard’s, Forgie’s and Wylie’s mills, *Flett’s foundry and others, have all felt the effect, more or less, of low water. 1871

-*Andrew Elliot and his firm, Elliot, Routh and Sheard, purchased. Hill No. 2 from Bennett and William Rosamond Go. in 1870

-*Sawmills, machine shops and iron foundries followed, including among the latter the foundry operated for a few years by John Flett (1836-1900) Almonte



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 16 Aug 1913, Sat,
  3. Page 1

Guess Who’s Coming to Almonte 1871 ?

A Walk through Lanark Village in 1871

Fire at Pakenham Woollen Factory with Town Directory

What Do You Know About the Burnt Lands?

Just last year this happened–Where is Merle Bowes? The Plight of our Local Farmers

When Crops Failed — Lanark County Went Manitoba Dreamin’

People Coming and Going- Going and Coming Photos


Our folks moved west, some moved back then went back again. It was a back and forth when the crops failed or they worked on the railway. Some of the stories are linked below. Here are some amazing photos I found this morning.

Photos from Canadian Photographic History Facebook page and they are also for sale on the Delcampe Auction site.


Photo Stefano Neis-RP: J.W. Stewart Family & trailer, WATROUS , Saskatchewan to Montreal , Quebec , Canada , 10-20s
Item number: 138804742



Photo by Stefano Neis–RP: OX & Horse wagon at DEERING Farm Machines barn , STETTLER , Alberta , Canada , PU-1908
Item number: 190398111


Photo by Stefano Neis–RP; “U Can Eat” Restaurant,Main Street(dirt), CABRI , Saskatchewan , Canada , PU-1912

Item number: 126575247
SCVIEW on Delcampe

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Another nice Item; Stereoview 1898 ; Women Prospectors on their way to Klondyke [Gold Rush] SCVIEW Item 384 621 876 on–Photo– Delcampe.com


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RP: RIVIERE TORTUE , Manitoba , Canada , 00-10s ; Man & Sod hut(Item ID: 331883167839)


Photo-Stefano Neis

RP, Railway Worker, Crows Nest, Alberta, East Of Sparwood, B.C., Canada, 1900-1910s
Item number: 198201072



Photo-Stefano Neis–RP: B.C. , Canada , FERNIE Crowd at Relief Stores after Fire Aug 1st 1908 RPPC. Spalding Photo
Item number: 266497248
SCVIEW on Delcampe



Aftermath of the Fernie Fire in 1908–read about the Fernie Fire here

Related reading


Lanark County Residents involved in the California Gold Rush

When Crops Failed — Lanark County Went Manitoba Dreamin’

Lanark County Moves West — Sarah Plain and Tall it was Not

Photos Through a Car Window of Hangtown California

Did Samuel Pittard of Ashton Murder His Wife?

Elizabeth Lindsay of Almonte — Victorian Women Business Owners

Where is Merle Bowes? The Plight of our Local Farmers





One of our favourite farmers, Merle Bowes from Limekiln Gardens, contacted us and said he would not be attending the Carleton Place Farmers Market this week. Merle has very little in produce to offer because of the current drought situation happening in Eastern Ontario.

Mr. Bowes is worried customers will think he isn’t coming back to the market, so we need to set the record straight. I don’t know if you know this but, Merle is one of the founding farmers of the Carleton Place Farmers Market-that’s 25 years folks that he has been serving up freshness to Lanark County.

Farmers in Eastern Ontario say they’re in “dire need” of rain in the next “week to ten days,” or they risk losing up to forty per cent of their crop. The hot, dry summer has devastated many crops in eastern Ontario, hurting both grain and livestock farmers who rely on grains for their feed. If corn crops fail, it could have a huge ripple effect because corn is also used as fuel and feed for cattle. On Friday, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority declared a “moderately severe” drought, and data from Environment Canada shows the Ottawa International Airport recorded the driest May since 1959.

Hay isn’t growing,  transplanted onions from the farmers greenhouse to the field, have quickly “wilted” and “bent over” because of the lack of moisture in the ground.  Did you know The Rideau Canal system is at full navigation level but, if drought conditions deepen, boaters on all lakes will need to keep an eye open for shoals and rocks as levels continue to drop. Ontario’s minister of agriculture is warning that the dry weather dominating the province will lead to higher food prices in the fall.

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Merle will be back joining the rest of our current farmers at the Carleton Place Farmers Market when crops are yielding– so come support our farmers at the market this Saturday. They go through a lot to give you the opportunity to eat fresh!  Keep checking the Carleton Place Farmer’s Market Facebook page to find out what is happening with Merle and what’s on at the Carleton Place Farmers Market.

Come visit us Saturdays at the Carleton Place Farmers Market from 8:30-12:30- Check it out here!